Alpine’s junior driver hopes hinge on Alonso

Date published: June 18 2021 - Mark Scott

Fernando Alonso Monaco 2021 PA

Alpine has said the door is not closed on their academy products progressing to a Formula 1 seat with them as Fernando Alonso may create an opportunity.

Upon confirmation of Esteban Ocon’s new three-year contract with the team, a thought was spared for current F2 drivers Guanyu Zhou, Oscar Piastri, and Christian Lundgaard as they look to climb up the final rung of the career ladder.

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi said in a recent interview with RacingNews365 that the team “probably have too many” academy drivers and they may have to look elsewhere for their breakthroughs into Formula 1.

However, Alpine’s executive director, Marcin Budkowski, does not want the trio to lose hope and reminded them via the press at the Paul Ricard circuit that Alonso could provide an opening for them.

The 39-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the next season.

“Esteban [Ocon] stays with us for three years, Fernando [Alonso] stays with us next year,” Budkowski told Sky Italia.

“Then we’ll see, we can never say never.

But the reality is that we have an academy of drivers, we have three drivers in Formula 2 that are going really well.

“This is probably our future. But let’s see how much time Fernando [Alonso] stays with us and which choices we’ll make in the future, it also depends on the performance of our young drivers.”

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Budkowski said there is a reluctance to introduce fresh faces due to seeing how difficult it can be for drivers to adapt to a new team.

“It’s important to build in the long term for a team,” Budkowski added.

“We saw this year with the drivers that switched teams or the drivers like Fernando who stopped and came back.

“It’s difficult to switch teams, it’s difficult to learn how to work with the team, to understand how the car works, they all have slightly different characteristics. So this stability is really important in the long term.

“We invested in Esteban, he invested in us as well, in our team. It’s a project we’ll build together.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla

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